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NY Times Glorifies Palestinian Stone Throwers

NY Times Glorifies Palestinian Stone Throwers

New York Times romanticizes Palestinian violence and ignores the victims.


Stones kill, maim, wound and change people's lives forever. Israeli infants have been slain, toddlers critically wounded and adults have sustained severe head injuries or were hospitalized with lighter injuries, all due to Palestinian stone throwers.

But the story of Israeli victims is not the one the New York Times prefers to tell and is certainly not the one Middle East correspondent Jodi Rudoren chose to recount in her latest front page, above-fold article about Palestinian stone throwers, entitled "‘My Hobby Is Throwing Stones': In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand."

Quite the contrary, this was a story that romanticized and heroized the Palestinian perpetrators. It is they – not the Israeli dead and injured – who are presented as the victims, "provoked by the situation," forced into this type of "futile" hobby, only to be arrested and incarcerated by fierce, powerful Israeli soldiers.

According to Rudoren, Palestinian youths "throw [stones] because there is little else to do in [their village] – no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road."

Her article focuses on the perpetrators' excuses, justifications for and pride in their actions, as well as the hardships they endure when arrested for their activities. For example:

Youths hurling stones has long been the indelible icon – some call it a caricature – of Palestinian pushback against Israel: a recent United Nations report said 7,000 minors, some as young as 9, had been detained between 2002 and 2012.

Here, stone throwing is glorified as "pushback against Israel," a "rite of passage," and an "honored act of defiance." Its violent results are played down, whitewashed. According to Rudoren, "The futility of stones bouncing off armored vehicles matters little [to the stone throwers]: confrontation is what counts."

Rite of Passage?

But stones do not merely "bounce off armored vehicles" futilely. What about 5-month old Yehuda Shoham whose skull was crushed by stones hurled at his car and who died after a six-day struggle for life in 2001?

What about 3-year-old Adele Biton who spent four months in the intensive care unit of a hospital fighting for her life and is now confined at a rehabilitation hospital, relearning how to eat, talk and walk after Palestinian rocks struck her mother's car this past March?

What about the 5-month old Jewish boy whose skull was crushed by stones?

What about 1-year-old Yonatan Palmer and his 25-year old father who were killed in September 2011 when their car was struck in a Palestinian stone attack? Although Palestinians are almost never convicted of murder for hurling stones at Israeli vehicles, Palestinian security officer Walal al Araja, confessed to and was convicted of the Palmer murders, as well as a series of similar attempted murders involving stone throwing.

In Rudoren's telling, however, there is no place for the stories of the unfortunate infants and toddlers who are targets of the Palestinians' "rite of passage" or "hobby," as the perpetrators view their stone throwing. The article mentions the murder of the Palmers only in passing, without names, relaying it as hearsay about anonymous victims:

"...I'm driving through a war zone," said Ms. Shvat, who knew a man and his 1-year-old son who died when their car flipped in 2011 after being pelted with stones on Road 60.

Indeed, this brief comment is the only mention of Israeli children who have fallen victim to Palestinian stone-throwers. In a nearly 2000-word article, The New York Times can find no room to even mention Yehuda Shoham or Adele Biton, let alone tell their stories.

And while Israeli children's funerals and hardship find no place in Rudoren's article, the funeral of a Palestinian 2-year-old is presented as the event "that led to [Muhammed Abu Hashem's] most recent arrest," Abu Hashem being a 17-year-old Palestinian who is the main protagonist of the article, with some 20 paragraphs devoted to his story of self-justification and arrest.

Nazi flag flying in Beit Omar (credit: Sochat/Tazpit)Other elements of the picture are similarly missing. For example, Rudoren describes "Beit Omar," the town from which Abu Hashem and other Palestinian stone throwers she interviews are from as "a farm town with roots in the Roman era" that has become a hot spot because of its perch off Road 60, the main thoroughfare from Jerusalem south to the settlements of Gush Etzion which the Palestinians say have taken up to one-third of the village's original 13 square miles.

Beit Omar is believed to be the site of the biblical town of Maarath, in the country of Judah, between Gedor and Beth-anoth (Joshua 15:59). Of course, the mention of biblical roots may suggest a Jewish history in a place where Rudoren is trying to convey a sense of encroachment by settlements. Accordingly, those "roots" are ignored as she fast-forwards to the village's supposed roots "in the Roman era."

Likewise, Rudoren conceals the fact that a red flag with a swastika, reminiscent of the Nazis and their plan to annihilate the Jewish people, was flown in Beit Omar just a couple of months ago. That might evoke the impression of anti-Semitic villagers and undermine the notion that stone throwing is merely a child's sport or "hobby."

Tragic Consequences

Not everyone takes such a benign view of rock throwing teenagers and not everywhere is the harsh treatment of the perpetrators of such attacks criticized.

In 1986, a U.S. teenager was sentenced to life in prison for throwing a stone from an overpass that killed a toddler in a car below. In 2010, two South Carolina teenagers were indicted on first degree murder charges after killing a woman sitting in the front seat of a car with a stone hurled from an overpass. And, in 2002, even when stone throwing resulted in no injuries, the teenaged perpetrators were charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and malicious injury to personal property. As the Sheriff's Department explained, throwing rocks "is not a prank. This is extremely dangerous. You could kill somebody doing this.''

Yisrael Medad provides a summary documenting the number of Palestinian stone throwing attacks from January-June of this year. In addition to 5,144 stonings, there were 611 molotov cocktail attacks, 8 shootings and 3 stabbings. But the only statistics provided by Rudoren pertain to the number of Palestinian children (stone throwers) incarcerated by Israel. That is the only part of the story The New York Times wants to tell.

Last year, CAMERA criticized The New York Times for featuring two separate, front-page stories about Israeli teenagers who had beaten (but not killed) an Arab teenager, but never publishing a front-page story about deadly attacks by Arab teenagers against Jews.

And while the newspaper has now published a front-page article about Arab teenagers who throw stones, the story is completely reframed to remove Israeli victims, romanticize the Palestinian perpetrators and implicitly criticize their arrests by Israeli police.

The stories last year about the criminal activities of Jewish teenagers focused on the general decline of morals among Israeli youth. The story about the Arab teenagers focuses on their self-declared heroism and victimhood. The disparate coverage provides yet another example of the type of misleading and biased reporting readers have come to expect from The New York Times.

Courtesy of

August 5, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 46

(41) Mike Batkin, August 13, 2013 10:35 PM

US uses deadly force against rock thowers on Mexican Border

It is not only Palestinians who like to throw rocks. Mexicans throw rocks across the border fence with the United States. Often these rocks are thrown towards US Border Patrol agents and these US agents have been injured. When a US agent believes that his (or her) life is endangered they are authorized to respond with deadly force. From time-to-time rock throwers on the Mexican side of the border have been killed by US border agents. Would Ms. Rudoren like to travel to Juarez or Tijuana in order to write an article about these rock throwers and their "hobby"? Would the NY Times publish it?

(40) Beverly Kurtin, August 13, 2013 2:26 AM

I'd love to have her in a car...

Several years ago I was driving with my mother when suddenly we heard what we thought was an explosion. It was a rock that had been dropped off an overpass.

Mom screamed at me, "Bev, your face is bleeding!" She told me to head to the closest emergency room. My face began to feel as though it was on fire.

It took six hours for the ER staff to remove the hundreds of glass shards that had embedded themselves into my face. Midway through the procedure, I went into shock.

Then I really went into shock when I discovered that the rock not only broke the windshield, but it had dented the metal around part of the windshield making it impossible to replace the windshield. So in addition to the physical pain I underwent, I lost what in today's money was around $20,000 because the insurance company would not pay to have the vehicle repaired.

How I wish the idiot who wrote the piece in the NYT had been with me at the time. Honest Reporting has some interesting photos of "rocks" being thrown...concrete blocks are minimized as "rocks." Yeah...they KILL PEOPLE.

It has been over a decade since I took the NYT and don't even read them online.

(39) miriam fishman, August 11, 2013 5:03 AM

superb article/rebuttal

i have a fantasy of your sitting down, face to face, w/ the author of the article, making each point you present in your article, and she would say, oh, I didn't know; and you would break her heart w/ pictures and facts of the hideous injuries we have sustained for years and years, from this "rite of passage" of the poor palistineans; and she would start crying and the NYTIMES would publish your above article............ yes, fantasy. But perhaps your article on the web, will reach someone at the paper. So well written -- the truth. thank you.
and could someone please clarify for the world that "stones" are basically boulders, not little rocks that decorate a garden.........and are meant to kill not just annoy

(38) lauren inker, August 9, 2013 6:41 PM

intention aside

i thought that the times article was badly written and sloppy, but whatever the author's intention (which i thought was unclear even to the author) the author called our attention to a generation of children who are neglecting their education and being rewarded for destructive behavior, and no one cares.

(37) Fred, August 9, 2013 12:23 AM

Considering the past Anti Jewish rethorics of NYT. There would have been joy knowing the NAZI s treatment of the Jews in Europe. Now there is a similar joy in glorifying stone throwing and bombing of Israel. The traitors within are worse than the traitors without . You are a sordid rag that cow tows to Arab money by selling out your family. Shame, shame....

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